President-elect Biden He's Just What America Needs Now ... Says Hopeful Historian

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If you're thinking Joe Biden's Presidency is behind the 8 ball right off the bat thanks to the great divide in our nation ... buck up, there's reason for optimism, according to a guy who knows his stuff.

Dr. Allan Lichtman -- Professor of History at American University -- joined "TMZ Live" to share his take on what Biden's up against ... and spell out exactly what it's going to take for him to have a successful administration.

The prof. offers some great perspective here ... he came armed with loaded historical examples of past Presidents who took over during tumultuous times (does 2000 ring a bell?), but found a way to govern effectively and bring people together.

Dr. Lichtman thinks Biden can do the same if he takes a page out of a legendary POTUS playbook. Hint: It's not JFK or Biden's buddy, Barack.

Bottom line is ... Lichtman thinks both Democrats and Republicans have 2 major problems to solve right away -- the pandemic and the economy -- and everyone can benefit if they work together.

It's just up to Biden to make it happen, and the historian's optimistic history will repeat itself ... in a good way this time.

Halsey Buys Liam Payne's House ... For a Cool $10M

Halsey is the new owner of a zen paradise, after scooping up Liam Payne's oasis in Calabasas.

The "You should be sad" singer certainly has reason to be happy after dropping $10,161,150 for the former 1D singer's 5-bedroom, 6-bathroom crib tucked away in the hills above Malibu.

The 9,659 square-foot home is perfect for entertaining, with a home theater, beautiful backyard and wine cellar. It's also got a giant library for quiet nights at home.

The pool looks like it was plucked right out of a 5-star resort, with a koi pond, waterfalls and tons of surrounding gardens.

There's also a massage/meditation house, recording studio, pool house with a full gym and guest room. And, this is on TOP of an additional private guest house.

Jonah Wilson of Hilton & Hyland and Tomer Fridman of Compass repped Liam while Josh Myler at The Agency repped Halsey.

Lamar Jackson Thanks Bills Mafia After $360k In Donations ... To QB's Charity

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Lamar Jackson is giving a huge shoutout to the Bills Mafia ... thanking the fanbase for flooding his charity with more than $360k in donations after suffering a concussion against Buffalo on Saturday.

Aside from smashing tables and other tailgate debauchery, the Bills Mafia is well-known for coming together to financially support causes tied to their players and opponents over the past few years.

After Lamar went down in the 3rd quarter of the Bills' 17-3 win over the Ravens in the divisional round of the playoffs, fans decided to show support by making donations to the QB's "Blessings in a Backpack" movement, which helps fight childhood hunger.

The former MVP took notice of the move on Monday ... heaping praise on the fans for their awesome gesture.

"Appreciate that #BillsMafia," Jackson said on Twitter. "Means A lot not to only me but those kids as well."

Remember, Bills fans shelled out more than $415k to Andy Dalton's foundation when he led Cincinnati to a Week 17 win over the Ravens in 2017 ... which helped Buffalo secure a playoff spot for the first time in forever.

The Bills Mafia also came together for their own QB when Josh Allen's grandma, Patricia, passed away the day before a game earlier this season ... donating more than $1 MILLION to the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo in her name.

Props to Bills Mafia for the gesture ... and get well soon, Lamar!

2021 Inauguration Feds Pay $10 Million for Ambulances, EMTs ... As D.C. Braces for Possible Violence

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There was a mad scramble after January 6 to get ambulances to Washington D.C. for the inauguration, and the federal government inked a multi-million dollar deal to make it happen.

FEMA has hired a company called American Medical Response, Inc. to provide emergency services for Wednesday. The value of the contract -- $10 million.

The deal was signed last Friday and runs through next Monday. AMR offers ground and air ambulances as well as EMT-trained personnel.

The inauguration's already off to a scary start ... as we reported, Monday's rehearsal was interrupted by smoke billowing nearby, leading to a lockdown of Capitol Hill.

D.C. is like an armed camp, with more than 20,000 National Guard troops at the ready. Although the feds now say the inauguration should be secure, they're clearly taking no chances. It's unclear how many ambulances are coming to D.C., but for $10 mil it must be a lot.

Fingers cross AMR's services won't be needed.

Kyrie Irving Buys Home For George Floyd's Family ... Says Stephen Jackson

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Kyrie Irving came through with an incredible gesture for George Floyd's family ... with Stephen Jackson revealing the NBA superstar recently bought them a new home.

Jackson -- who personally knew Floyd and referred to him as his "twin" -- vowed to be a father figure for George's 7-year-old daughter, Gianna, after George's death in May 2020.

But, the ex-NBAer says he's not alone in supporting Floyd's family ... joining Etan Thomas' "The Rematch" podcast to praise other huge names who have stepped up in support.

"I'm just continuing to do what I said I was going to do," Jackson said on the podcast. "I said I was going to be my brother's keeper and take care of his daughter and make sure that her next days are her best days."

"A lot of my friends ... Kyrie Irving bought them a house. Lil Wayne's manager bought them a Mercedes-Benz. Barbra Streisand gave them stock in Disney."

As we previously reported, Lil Baby also stepped up to throw a lavish party for Gianna's 7th birthday ... and Jackson says the kind gestures have helped her deal with the tragic loss of her father.

"I think God has definitely blessed her," Stack continued. "Right now, she's doing the best she's ever done. She's happy."

We've reached out to Kyrie's reps for more details ... so far, no word back.

UFC's Calvin Kattar Beating Max Holloway ... It'd Change My Life

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Calvin Kattar says his UFC on ABC main event match with Max Holloway is more than just a fight ... a win represents a better life -- more money, more opportunities.

TMZ Sports talked to the 32-year-old fighter before his Fight Island fight this weekend with the former featherweight champ ... and Kattar says only everything is on the line.

"I ain't got s*** to say to Max! I'm just going out looking to earn my respect and just get me a title shot, ya know? Change my life."

"I'm chasing the life on the other side of a win over Max Holloway. Things get better off wins, you get double the money, you get more opportunities and like I said, I'm just chasing the life off a win over Max Holloway."

Kattar -- the #6 ranked featherweight -- is 22-4 ... and coming off wins over Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige.

Calvin's been super impressive ... but things don't get any easier on Fight Island ... 'cause Holloway is arguably the greatest 145 lb.'er of all-time.

As for blessed, he's looking to claw his way back to the top of the UFC mountain after 2 controversial losses to Alex Volkanovski ... and that's exactly what he tells us he'll do.

FAR FROM BEING DONE
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"Belt or no belt, I'm gonna always carry myself as a champion. The belt doesn't define me. I got 5 titles at home. The 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, all the way to 13, 20, whatever you wanna call it, I'm gonna get it. It's just in due time," Max tells us.

"I just gotta keep doing my job, and doing my part, and everything else will fall in place."

Charles Barkley NBA Players Should Skip Line For COVID Vaccine ... They Pay More Taxes!!!

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12:44 PM PT -- TMZ Sports followed up with Smith about his partner's comments ... and while he disagrees with Chuck's reason for getting pros the vaccine first, the Jet makes a different point.

"These are the healthiest people in the world. You don't need the vaccines first," Smith said at LAX. "However, the only thought process of that is if you're allowing sports to participate in the country, you do become a super spreader because you're going to city to city."

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"If your job is taking you from city to city on a daily basis, then that would make sense why they should be at the front of the line, even before football."

The Jet says he spoke with Chuck off-cam about why he disagrees with his point ... and they were able to come up with an understanding of each other's views.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley says NBA and NFL athletes deserve preferential treatment with COVID-19 vaccines ... claiming it's only fair considering how much they pay in taxes.

The NBA is currently dealing with a COVID nightmare ... with at least 10 games being postponed due to positive tests or close contacts through less than a month of play.

The "Inside The NBA" analysts were discussing the status of the league following the Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets game Thursday night ... when Chuck gave his eye-opening take.

"We need 300 million shots, give a thousand to some NBA players ... NFL players, hockey players," Barkley said. "As much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment."

Kenny Smith followed up by questioning if that's fair when it could literally be a "life or death" situation for regular folk who don't have the same resources as pro athletes ... but Barkley doubled down.

"We can't go there," Smith clapped back. "I don't think you can go there."

Barkley noted he personally believes 1,000 vaccines to NBA players would not take away from at-risk or elderly people who could benefit more from the vaccine ... and claims his plan would keep the season alive.

Of course, both NBA and NFL commissioners Adam Silver and Roger Goodell have already shot down the idea of giving their players vaccines while essential workers and others wait in line.

The NBA recently modified its health and safety protocols after 16 players tested positive for the virus ... but Chuck clearly thinks more needs to be done to save the season.

Originally Published -- 7:09 AM PT

Pitbull I'm A NASCAR Team Owner Now!!!

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Pitbull may need to go by "Dale" Earnhardt, Jr. now ... 'cause the party music legend is now a proud co-owner of a NASCAR racing team!!

The Grammy award winner shared the big news on Friday (which also happens to be his 40th birthday) ... officially announcing his partnership with Team Trackhouse and owner Justin Marks.

As it turns out, Mr. Worldwide says he's been a fan of NASCAR ever since he saw the 1990 flick "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise ... and now he couldn't be more pumped to get in on the action.

"This is a great way to celebrate my 40th bday, so Get Ready! Dale!" Pitbull said on Twitter.

Trackhouse features star driver Daniel Suarez, who gave his new boss a shoutout shortly after the announcement was made.

"Welcome to the family amigo 🤙🏼💪🏼 @pitbull," Suarez said. "Daleeee!!!🔥🔥  Big things are happening."

Pitbull won't just be a mascot owner -- the musician is slated to be in-person to watch his team compete at the Daytona 500 next month.

He's already been active in the racing community ... performing alongside Blake Shelton at Phoenix Raceway back in March.

NASCAR released a statement on the big move, saying, "Pitbull is an iconic talent in the music industry and has tremendous passion for NASCAR racing."

"We look forward to working with him to further engage diverse audiences and introduce new fans to our great sport.”

And, one more time, just for the hell of it -- DALE!!!!

Kyrie Irving Fined $50k, Forfeits More Than $800k ... For Maskless Partying

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Kyrie Irving has been hit with yet another fine this season ... this time, the Brooklyn Nets superstar will have to cough up $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols.

As we previously reported, the NBA was investigating video of a maskless Irving attending a private birthday party for his sister earlier this week, which is against the league's COVID-19 policy.

The rule states players cannot attend indoor events exceeding 15 people.

The Association handed down its punishment Friday ... and while KI was hit with the $50k fine, he will also forfeit game checks for the 2 games he missed following the party, which amounts to $816,898, according to insider Bobby Marks.

It's not the first time Irving has had to pull out his wallet this season ... he was fined $25k for refusing to speak to the media.

The latest development adds to the drama-filled season for Irving -- who went MIA on the Nets last week for "personal reasons."

Irving will be able to return to the team as early as Saturday -- as long as he continues to test negative for COVID -- but whether he actually shows up is a different issue.

Rangers' Tyler Wagner Tim Lincecum Paid Me $1K To Drink Jug Of Salad Dressing!!!

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Would you slam a vat of Italian dressing for $1,000!?!

That's a question Tim Lincecum apparently asked one of his teammates back in 2018 ... and, according to the salad-topping drinker, the answer was YES!!!

Tyler Wagner -- a former Texas Rangers pitcher -- revealed the story on social media late Thursday night ... and it's hilarious, mostly because he provided photographic proof that it all went down!

Wagner says when he and Lincecum were teammates in Texas about three years ago ... the two-time Cy Young winner bet him a grand that he wouldn't drink the leftover dressing that came with the team's salad.

Turns out, Lincecum clearly underestimated Wagner's love of cash ... 'cause the guy threw it back like a shot of tequila!

The pics are laugh out loud funny, especially the post-drink one ... 'cause you can tell, Wagner was bragging to all his clubhouse mates about the gross (and impressive!) feat.

Wagner even provided a pic of the check Lincecum cut him to prove the guy paid up!

And, get this, Wagner says Lincecum threw in an EXTRA $250 on top of the $1,000, because, "he said just because it was rough to watch."

Amazing.

Kelly Oubre Claims Ex-GF Tried To Extort Him ... Out of $3 Million

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G.S. Warrior star Kelly Oubre claims his ex-GF tried to extort him out of nearly $3 million ... and if he didn't pay up, she'd launch a smear campaign intended to destroy his reputation.

The allegations are part of a lawsuit filed by the 25-year-old hooper in Los Angeles.

Oubre -- a 6-year NBA vet who was a former 1st-round draft pick -- claims his ex, Makena LeDuff, contacted him on January 11, 2021, and demanded a large sum of money ... or she would retaliate against him.

"Makena demanded that Kelly her pay her nearly $3 million or she would make public her false, scurrilous, and extortionate allegations by the end of the week," the lawsuit reads.

The suit claims LeDuff contacted Oubre and threatened to say he was engaged in "criminal conduct" and make other false allegations ... all "crafted to cause maximum and irreparable harm to Kelly, his reputation, and his career."

If this case sounds familiar ... well, that's 'cause it is.

Oubre first filed suit against LeDuff back in 2019 .... saying she became an absolute nightmare after they broke up. He claims she stole his 2 dogs, Soul and Saint, slashed his tires and refused to leave the house he was renting in Beverly Hills.

Kelly says he still hasn't gotten his dogs back ... and now the situation has escalated with the threats. So, his attornies amended their initial complaint ... and now they're seeking punitive damages against LeDuff.

That's not all -- Oubre also claims Makena threatened to hurt him with a thinly veiled threat she posted on social media back in August 2019.

"Makena posted a photo on her Instagram account, where she intimated that she would take physical action against Kelly, Kelly’s friends, or anyone else that tried to enter the house to help Kelly to retrieve his things," the lawsuit claims.

The suit continues ... "Specifically, the photo showed Makena in the backyard of the Beverly Hills house, wearing one of Kelly’s favorite hats, while at the same time brandishing a rifle. In the caption, Makena wrote, 'Exercising ALL my rights.'"

Oubre is asking a judge to force Makena to pay for property she allegedly damaged ... and well as to declare KO the legal owner of his dogs.

Biden Inauguration No Airbnb, No Problem ... Craigslist Fills Rental Void

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Airbnb is blocking and canceling reservations in the D.C. area for Inauguration Day, but supporters and protesters looking for a crash pad have a plan B ... they're flocking to Craigslist.

The online classifieds site is fast becoming the place to go for those looking to sleep somewhere other than a hotel for the Inauguration ... with accommodations ranging from apartments to homes, to vacation properties.

TMZ did some digging and here's what the inauguration rental landscape looks like on Craigslist:

One-bedroom apartments a little over a mile from the Capitol are running $250 per night, but there's a catch ... ya gotta book a minimum of 3 nights. That gets ya a fully furnished pad with a full kitchen that could come in handy due to COVID restrictions at restaurants.

A little further out from the Capitol -- 2.2 miles or a 15-minute drive -- 600-square-foot apartments loaded with amenities are running around $90 a night for 2 people.

One reason for low prices -- low demand, or at least that's what the Biden administration is hoping. They're encouraging people to take in the Inauguration from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Remember, the National Mall, where inauguration crowds typically gather, is now closed to the public due to heightened security.

For those who persist, and are traveling in big groups, nearby Arlington, VA has larger accommodations ... for instance, you can get 3 days in a 4-bedroom, 3-bath home for a total of $1,650. Again, that's a deep discount from the usual price of $4,500. There are also 5-bedroom options in Arlington.

Even folks heeding the suggestion to stay outta D.C. are turning to Craigslist ... hoping to sublet places they'd rented and paid for before they decided to stay home.

Trevor Noah My Daily Show for Minka ... $27.5 Million Bel-Air Mansion!!!

Trevor Noah's stepping up his game in a big way with his new digs ... as things with Minka Kelly are apparently kicking up a notch as well.

'The Daily Show' host has upgraded mansions in super swanky Bel-Air, dropping $27.5 million on an 11,000 sq. ft masterpiece of a hillside home ... and he closed the deal late in 2020.

His huge buy seems to be part of a trend for Noah -- he purchased another mansion in Bel-Air in 2019 for $20.5 mil ... but turned around and sold it last summer for $21.7 mil.

Apparently, he's got a thing for showplaces in the area, and his newest one is inspired by Japanese aesthetics and spans 3 stories ... on a sprawling estate overlooking a scenic backyard and infinity pool.

Noah bought the 6-bed, 11-bath home from L.A. architect Mark Rios. Along with a spacious room and an abundance of natural light ... the mansion comes with an office, library, elevator, gym, spa, steam room, game room and a movie theater leading to a rooftop terrace.

It's the perfect spot for a rich young bachelor, but even better for a hot Hollywood couple ... like Minka and him. Word is Trevor's real estate transaction was made with their future in mind ... and she might be moving her stuff in soon.

Conor McGregor Cops Insane $1 Million Watch ... '4-Satellite' Structure With Diamonds!!!

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A magnesium globe? Check. A one-of-a-kind diamond? Check. A four-satellite structure that moves at a crazy speed set on a base of diamonds that's encased in crystal and gold? Check!

Yup, Conor McGregor's new wristwatch has it all ... the UFC fighter flaunted the newest addition to his wardrobe Thursday -- and it's INSANE!!!

The piece is called Astronomia Tourbillon Baguette ... and it's reportedly valued at over $1 MILLION.

The folks at Jacob & Co. created the piece -- and it's clearly so cool, Conor just had to cop it before his huge fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 next weekend.

TIME TO STUNT
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McGregor bragged about the watch on social media, posting pics and videos with it -- and he even said he got a new pricey car and suit to go along with it.

Jacob & Co. reps say the watch is truly an epic piece ... and in the video they created to show the thing off -- you can see just how intricate and amazing the flashy mechanism is.

Of course, McGregor is no stranger to fancy watches (he's copped this one AND this one just recently) ... but when you're the Notorious One, you can never have too many options, right??

#SWAG

Capitol Insurrection Feds Busting Out the Receipts ... To Track Down Rioters

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If the insurrectionists had a bite to eat, a rental car or a pillow to lay on while in D.C. last week before storming the Capitol, the feds just might find out about it ... because they're digging through a laundry list of receipts to track down the culprits.

Federal law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... the FBI has gone well beyond just resorting to flight manifests to find the people they suspect took part in Wednesday's siege -- they're looking at any and everything the rioters might've put their name to while in town.

That includes sifting through restaurant bills, hotel ledgers and rental car records in the days leading up to and following the attack on the Capitol ... and linking that up with intel of their own.

Here's another thing ... our sources say much of the legwork for this comprehensive approach is being done by the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force ... a group founded in NYC in the '80s.

Of course, there have been several high-profile arrests all over the country since last week's insurrection. Law enforcement says they nabbed the horn guy, the shield guy, the feet-on-desk guy, the two zip tie guys, the Auschwitz sweater guy, the lectern guy ... and others.

Granted ... there are literally hundreds more who didn't stick out so clearly ... so there's a lot more work to be done in the weeks and months to come as law enforcement attempts to bring all these people to justice.

TMZ broke the story ... they're investigating certain Capitol police officers and others who work at the Capitol, because there's evidence this could be an inside job. Our sources say 10 to 15 cops are under the microscope and the investigation is far along.

We've seen law enforcement in D.C. mobilized like never before -- the Capitol swarmed by thousands of National Guard members, FBI, Secret Service, Capitol Police and on and on.

Bottom line here ... no stone is going unturned in identifying the culprits. So if you left a digital footprint in D.C. that week and were anywhere near the Capitol, looks like they got your number.

Mickey Mantle Baseball Card Sells For $5.2 Million ... Sets All-Time Record

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A Mickey Mantle baseball card just sold for $5.2 MILLION at auction ... smashing the previous record by over a million bucks!!

The 5 million dollar card?? A 1952 #311 Topps Mickey Mantle ... considered one of the most desirable trading cards in existence.

We're told the card -- graded in mint condition and 1 of only a few in existence -- was brokered by the people at the online auction site, PWCC.

Aside from Mickey being a 20x All-Star and 7x World Series champ ... 1952 was also the 1st year Topps produced baseball cards.

This isn't the only time this particular Mantle card has been sold ... back in 2018 it raked in $2.88 mil at auction. 2 years later ... it's almost doubled in value.

Before the Mantle card set the new record ...a Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Superfractor held the title -- with a $3.9 million price tag.

So, who has a big enough fortune to drop $5 mil plus on a 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inch (albeit extremely valuable) piece of cardboard?

The guys' name is Rob Gough ... and if that name rings a bell, it's because he's the man behind the iconic CBD brand, DOPE CBD.

Rob's bank account is $5 mil lighter today ... but on the bright side, he now owns the most valuable baseball card ever made.

Congrats!!

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